“Not Your Girlfriend” explores how the system is kept in check by extensions of its power, and how susceptible that system can be to even the slightest pushback.
This recap of Class of ’09 Season 1 Episode 4, “Not Your Girlfriend”, contains spoilers.
Law enforcement is synonymous with guns.
This is true in most places. The firearm represents power – the ability to take a life in an instant. In most places, civilians can’t carry them, so the ability to do so almost seems like a privilege. The allure of being a “special agent” is, at least in part, the allure of being above the law, not an extension of it.
I raise this for a reason.
Class of ’09 Season 1 Episode 4 Recap
“Not Your Girlfriend” opens with Drew being shot, right before it cuts to her explaining the importance of firearms – and the responsibility that comes with them – to the recruits in ‘09. She never fired her weapon, and she leaves out that she was fired upon by someone else’s. This is a deliberate choice.
A special agent must be ready to draw their gun, and to take a life. It’s probably better for morale that they’re not reminded how likely the reverse is.
How does Hour come up with the idea for Better Life?
Some recruits, like Tayo, know their way around a firearm already. Others, like Hour, have never held one before.
This is a deliberate choice too. For Hour, the child of an immigrant family, there are worse fates than being shot, and the willingness to risk them – such as by inviting the FBI to investigate her life – is braver than pulling a trigger.
A gun, fundamentally, is just mechanical working parts mixed with a bit of chemistry and physics. But a gun represents something. Power, yes, but also the ability to wield it to maintain the status quo. Hour never having held a gun, and her rigorous questioning of a polygraph test, are the same thing – resistance. This is the genesis of an idea that will eventually become Better Life, a way for law enforcement to work so efficiently that the very idea of it is terrifying to the FBI itself, which has a vested interest in remaining, in many ways, very much unchanged.
Why does Poet change her answers on the polygraph test?
When the recruits shoot their new guns at pop-up targets, interesting things happen. Tayo is a good marksman, but he briefly hesitates when the next target that pops up is a Black man. It goes unremarked upon, but not unnoticed. After a second or two, Tayo shoots him anyway.
Poet does the same thing, but the target she hesitates over is a woman. And she doesn’t shoot, despite her being armed. When she’s questioned about it, she invents a fictional biography for the target – an off-duty officer, or a woman simply defending herself. She’s reminded that the point of the exercise isn’t to do that. But shouldn’t it be?
Poet also draws attention to herself when she resits her polygraph test, changing her answer to the question of whether she’s concealing anything that may jeopardize her application by revealing her relationship with Lennix. She’s already putting the system above her own right to privacy. After, Drew takes her aside to explain the agent-on-agent shooting we saw in the cold open. She was blamed for that, for being in the wrong place, which is to say in the same place the men were.
The situations might not look the same on paper, but the outcome is consistent. Women always end up suffering when things go wrong.
Class of ’09 Season 1 Episode 4 Ending Explained
Who dies in “Not Your Girlfriend”?
In the present day, these themes are reflected. When Tayo interrogates Mark Tupirik with the help of Better Life, Tupirik states openly that his position as an FBI agent gave him the authority to open fire at the ranch. He had an excuse. He had the power.
But Tupirik has infiltrated the system itself. He has agents in the FBI. At the same shooting range where the class of ’09 fired on their targets, one of Tupirik’s agents, an FBI recruit, opens fire on everyone, including Drew. She’s once again in the wrong place. Another agent-on-agent shooting. This time, she’s able to sit up and shoot the perpetrator dead before she seemingly expires.
Poet guesses, correctly, that this isn’t Tupirik’s only double agent. While the alerts blare from Quantico, she goes to investigate the construction work being carried out on the J. Edgar Hoover building, which she orders to be evacuated. Many agents are able to get out. But many more, including Poet, are buried when the building collapses in on itself due to Tupirik’s sabotage.
Poet obviously isn’t dead, since we’ve seen her and her bionic eye in the future timeline, but this is clearly the event that precipitates AI being embraced by Tayo.
You can stream Class of ’09 Season 1 Episode 4, “Not Your Girlfriend” exclusively on Hulu.